Helping small business owners develop extraordinary businesses that really work for their customers, their employees, themselves and their families

Who decides if you’re “qualified”?

When starting to work in an area of business, we might wonder if we need to be “certified” or “anointed” as qualified to work in that area.

There are organizations that are created to issue “certifications” and “degrees”, including colleges, universities, and professional associations. The question arises, “Who anointed these people to be qualified to certify others?” Recognize that these are businesses whose function is largely to provide screening and bars to entry to potential competitors.

Other organizations are in the business of offering training and certifications as job and business opportunities. These are for-profit organizations. They might offer what they sincerely believe is valuable training, but that training isn’t required to work in their subject areas. For example, you can take a class about using Microsoft Word or accomplish the same thing with a workbook.

There are legal restrictions in some areas, such as practicing medicine, law, and performing financial statement audits. For a list of most of these areas in California, see the Department of Consumer Affairs web site at The web site for the State Bar of California (for attorneys) is The web site for the California Department of Real Estate (for real estate brokers and agents) is

Beyond those areas, your qualifications depend more on your experience and education, including self-study, than any certification, so you can simply declare or “self-anoint” yourself as qualified. Surprisingly, a referred client or customer will rarely ask about your formal qualifications. They are more concerned with your reputation as an authority for the areas you work in. That means you will get more influential impact from speaking and writing than from a degree.

Ted Nicholas became enormously successful writing books on legal subjects, such as How To Form Your Own Corporation Without A Lawyer For Under $50, How To Form Your Own S Corporation, The Complete Guide To Nonprofit Corporations and The Corporate Forms Kit. He wasn’t a lawyer or a CPA. He was an entrepreneur. He researched the subjects, wrote and marketed the books, and provided related services.

Being “professional” depends more on your conduct and integrity than someone else’s certification. As we often see in newspapers or other news sources, members of many traditional professions (even the clergy!) are frequently found guilty of malpractice or misbehavior, so being a member of a traditional profession provides no assurance that one is “professional”.

With technological, sociological and legal developments happening so fast, any certification or degree becomes meaningless in a few years without continuous study and practice.

So, with a few exceptions, if you are confident that you can competently offer a valuable product or service, go ahead.

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Helping small business owners develop extraordinary businesses that really work for their customers, their employees, themselves and their families